Free schools mean what? | Arkansas Blog

Free schools mean what?



A lawyer who follows school issues calls my attention to an article today in the New York Times about a lawsuit filed in California over textbook, test, course and other fees being charged there to make up for budget shortages.

The lawsuit says the fees violate the right to a free public education and the article predicts the movement could spread nationwide.

I've never heard of a textbook fee or purely academic fee in present-day Arkansas public school (but let me know if you have). But the article says questions have been raised about gear for sports and PE classes and other activities. What goes around in California eventually comes around elsewhere. For the record, the Arkansas constitutional language on public education, with some emphasis supplied.

Intelligence and virtue being the safeguards of liberty and the bulwark of a free and good government, the State shall ever maintain a general, suitable and efficient system of free public schools and shall adopt all suitable means to secure to the people the advantages and opportunities of education. The specific intention of this amendment is to authorize that in addition to existing constitutional or statutory provisions the General Assembly and/or public school districts may spend public funds for the education of persons over twenty-one (21) years of age and under six (6) years of age, as may be provided by law, and no other interpretation shall be given to it.

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